Monaco may be synonymous with glamour and wealth, but it is arguably its royal family that brought this petite nation to the attention of the world, more specifically Rainier III the Prince of Monaco, and his fairytale wedding to Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco, giving birth to Princess Caroline, Prince Albert II and Princess Stephanie Marie Elizabeth before her death from a car accident in 1982, aged 52.
Princess Stephanie has been noted for her scandalous and dramatic love life, including a short lived marriage to her bodyguard, Princess Caroline has had a more sedate life, marrying twice after the tragic death of her first husband. Prince Albert is
Monaco’s current ruler and has never married, despite numerous, highly scrutinized liaisons. If he dies without producing an heir Princess Caroline will take over the ruling of the country.
Monaco has the longest ruling royal family in Europe, having been in power for over seven hundred years. Monaco’s coat of arms symbolise how the Grimaldi family came to power, when Francois Grimaldi, a pirate, disguised himself to avoid troops and seized the fortress that protected the city. Francois was succeeded by Prince Rainier I. All subsequent rulers have been descended from him and his respectable trading the King of France to appoint him the Grand Admiral of France in 1304.
The Grimaldi’s position as a monarchy in Monaco was formalised with Honore II in 1612 when the state became sovereign. The treaty of Peronne set out close links with France, links that have been maintained to this day.
The Royal Family was exiled in the 16th Century, due to the French Revolution. The exile lasted twenty years, though the family returned to power after the Treaty of Paris. Monaco was damaged greatly during the Second World War, being occupied by the Germans for a period of time though it had sought to remain neutral.
Grace Kelly’s future husband, Prince Rainier, came to power in 1949 and worked hard to rebuild the country after the war years. Prince Rainier outlived his famous wife, passing away in 2005 after being a popular and successful ruler for half a century.
Royalists visiting Monaco can visit the prince’s official residence: a grand building which was once a fortress and has been occupied by the Grimaldis for over seven centuries. Over the years the palace has seen numerous extensions, giving it an interesting, asymmetrical look that blends in perfectly with the craggy scenery that surrounds it.